The TDM 850 was arguably the first road-oriented "Adventure Tour" motorcycle. It was never marketed as an off-road bike, but as a comfortable yet manoeuvrable all-rounder, rather like the later Honda NC700X, CB500X, Kawasaki Versys, KTM SMT, and Ducati Multistrada. When designing the TDM, Yamaha are said to have used a lot of ideas from their "Morpho" project. The TDM's engine was derived from the Paris Dakar winning Yamaha XTZ 750 Super Tenere. Yamaha intended to create a motorcycle capable of handling the mountain roads of the European Alps and coping with rougher road surfaces; and the TDM's upright riding position was radical in its day.
The TDM was imported into the United States for only two years, 1992 and 1993. It was never a big seller in the United Kingdom or in The Netherlands, but in other European countries (including France, Germany and Greece) sales were strong. In 1996 Yamaha released the Mk2 TDM with updated bodywork and a 270° firing order instead of the previous 360°. This modified engine was first seen on the Japanese market in 1995, when Yamaha introduced the TRX850. The 270° engine gave the TDM an attractive new "feel", and it now became a popular bike in the Netherlands, where for some years it was among the top 15 best-selling bikes.
In 2001 the 3rd incarnation arrived, the TDM 900, with new bodywork, a diamond-shaped alloy frame, a 6-speed gearbox, fuel-injection, R1 derived brakes, a reduced dry weight of 190 kg, a larger-capacity 900cc engine, and slightly wider tyres (160 rear, 120 front). It has a 2-position trip meter, a digital clock, and digital fuel meter. ABS was available as an option.
The TDM is classified as New Sports, a new category invented by Yamaha, comparable with "Dual Sports" or "Adventure Sports bikes". Although a TDM is too bulky and heavy for serious off-road work, its long-travel suspension is well suited for gravel tracks and light off-road use. Popular modifications include fitting aftermarket exhausts, "blue-spot" brake calipers, and dual-sports tires.
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